"One is grateful for little things, and that is surely a gain." ....
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - noted Christian martyr and theologian - in a letter to his parents.
Gratitude seems to well up of its own accord whenever we are confronted with marvelous blessings and great mercies. But, being the cranky little folks that we often are, gratitude can be in short supply when things don't well.
However, it is often, just when things are the most difficult, that it is most important that we learn to practice an "attitude of gratitude". And it does require practice, because for most of us, it does not come naturally.
Just now, I am grateful for many small things. Yesterday, I cleaned off the patio and began putting the patio furniture in storage mode for the coming winter. We have had our first really hard rain here in Sacramento, and there is more in the forecast. But yesterday was sunny and warm, and the cushions were dry-to-the touch, so it was time to dismantle one of my favorite spots for listening to the squirrels chatter, watching the hummingbirds, enjoying the flower beds, and just generally being glad that God is in His heaven.
And thus, when the Velcro straps were pulled apart, the tie-knots undone, and the cushions wiped off with a clean rag, it was time to put them into the storage bags. And, oh joy, there actually was a box of them on hand in the garage and I did not have to go to the store just to buy some before I could finish the job.
How often have you had a task half-finished, only to discover that the one small screw you needed was nowhere to be found? Or the one color of thread that would fix the tear so that it was unnoticeable was missing from the sewing box? Or the recipe you were assembling was missing the one ingredient that you could not substitute? And so, off to the store you went, whether you really wanted to or not.
I am telling you, I was grateful to find a box of Glad bags already on hand in the garage yesterday! Really, honestly grateful. I mean this thing could have gone a whole other direction. An unplanned trip to the store would have meant I must first do something with my unruly hair. And the gas gauge was reading nearly empty, so I would need to go by the gas station either coming or going to the store. And...... and there you go. One thing can lead to another and the whole afternoon is suddenly shot.
We tend to be so self-absorbed, and focused on either obtaining or maintaining our own comfort level, that it is easy to forget that many others are attempting to be grateful for "little things" in the midst of much greater difficulties.
One person told me on the phone this week that her grandson had come home after school smiling because he said, "God answered our prayers. Not one person called me fat today." He is nine, and yes, he is over weight, and has often been the object of the school yard bullies. So he was grateful for even one day when no one called him names.
Another individual told his mother that he had "four straight hours of sleep" one night this past week. He was so grateful, as the disease attacking his body has made getting more than an hour or so at a time nearly impossible. These days I am irritable when I cannot get at least 6 or 7 straight hours, and tend to forget that for many years insomnia was my constant companion. How could I forget that?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the line above from prison. And yes, he was truly grateful for the little things. Occasionally he could watch a small bird on a branch across the prison yard and hear its song. He was allowed to receive letters from those who cared. Here he was, wrongfully imprisoned for opposing the Nazi regime and for preaching the gospel, and yet he was grateful for the little things, even in those circumstances.
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I am grateful for:
- a good cup of tea
- a card from a friend
- sunshine on the October leaves
- the sound of rain on the sun room roof
little things, to be sure.
How wonderful to be able to enjoy these things with a free heart and a glad outlook. How much more important, however, to call to mind that there are those, in circumstances so much more trying than our own, who need our prayers and who are counting on us to hold them up before the Lord.
Who is counting on you to go before the throne and ask for God's hand upon them today? Who is counting on me?
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Lord, help me to be not just grateful, but also faithful, to pray for those whom you have laid on my heart, and brought across my path.
God bless you. .....Marsha Y.